Singing Nun on Italy’s The Voice

 In Blog, Elementary, Lessons and Ideas, Secondary


A viral video has circulated showing a young nun singing an Alicia Keys song on Italy’s The Voice. It makes for a wonderful discussion topic.

The facial/body reactions of the 4 judges to the nun’s identity is highlighted in the video. Each is dumbfounded/confounded upon discovering the source of the voice.

The compelling issues involve the contrasting costuming and cultures, which are highlighted in the people’s conversations.  Rock n Roll has long been considered sinful, beginning as ‘rhythm n blues’ and taking its name from black culture’s slang term for sex. Many rock stars, including the producers on the show, proudly characterize themselves as satanic complements to the nun’s virtue. When asked why she is singing an Alicia Keys song rather than something more religious, she takes a religious tack in responding that music is god’s gift, so her singing glorifies God.

Some questions students might discuss include: (thanks to Carol Arcus)

Might the audience love her less if she were not a nun? Why?

How does her habit and history contrast with the lyrics and melody of the song?

Externally she is asexual, but how how do her voice and the lyrics affect that image?
How does the fact of Italy’s growing secularism enhance her novelty?

How might her appearance make the Catholic clergy seem less stuffy?

How might her appearance encourage young people to consider a religious life?

This is a talent contest, but also about celebrity (aspirational). What kind of celebrity could she achieve? What kind of celebrity is the Pope?
What might be some overlapping power structures at work here (e.g., judges/contestant/TV/Youtube; nuns/Church/Pope)? Have any power structures been penetrated with this performance? How does the blending of power contribute to the discourse?


See also Why we find the idea of a singing nun so comic – and so appealing

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